On April 13, 2014, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (R) signed a law (S.B. 365) that will limit exposure for employers who hire employees with a criminal conviction history.

The law creates a presumption of “due care” in hiring for offenders who are issued a Program Treatment Completion Certificate (PTCC) by the Department of Corrections or who are pardoned by the State Board of Pardons and Paroles (the Board). The presumption may be rebutted by relevant evidence that extends beyond the scope of the certificate or pardon “which was known or should have been known by the person against whom the negligence is asserted.”

“The law is part of a nationwide trend designed to facilitate the reentry of criminal offenders into the workplace.”

The PTCC is intended to symbolize “an offender’s achievements toward successful reentry into society.” The Board will issue rules and regulations relating to the issuance of such a certificate, taking into account the offender’s disciplinary record and other relevant factors. However, an offender who was convicted of a serious violent felony as defined under Georgia law will not be eligible for such a certificate. The new law is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2014.

The law is part of a nationwide trend designed to facilitate the reentry of criminal offenders into the workplace. “Building on the success of the landmark criminal justice reforms passed in the 2012 and 2013 sessions, the General Assembly and the Criminal Justice Reform Council worked with me to revolutionize Georgia’s criminal justice standards and strengthen our state’s economy,” Deal said in a press release. “The incentives and re-entry programs included in this legislation are cost-effective strategies that will increase the number of former offenders returning to the workforce and supporting their families.” Employers should expect similar laws to be passed in other cities and states.